Antidepressant Withdrawal: A Prozac Story

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March 2, 2015 | 89 Comments


  1. Another fairly typical story. Not too much terribly wrong with you, GP prescribes an SSRI and before you know it you are on the polypharmacy merry-go-round. You find yourself locked into a hell you can’t escape and you can’t get back to who you were before you ever took one of these permanently brain damaging chemicals. These drugs should be a last resort which comes in miles behind all other treatment options.

    • Couldn’t agree more. Psychotropics should be a last resort – most ‘mental illnesses’ are actually quite normal and nit diseases per se.
      Exercise, nature, talk therapy, meditation for some works as does yoga.
      Remember .. what you are experiencing might be a spiritual awakening of sorts. It’s different for everybody. Don’t simply accept what doctors especially psychiatrists want to prescribe – ask questions and know the risks. There are no medical tests that prove you have a mental illness. (blood work, saliva, urine specimens) – nothing. It’s hit or miss and shrinks know this is to be true. They go by symptoms – what you tell them and then more often than not the “let’s try this ” game begins. Ask them if they’ve ever cured any of their patients.

    • So it’s ok to leave people with iatrogenic schizophrenia? It’s not ok to use them as a last resort. No-one deserves chronic apathy, sexual dysfunction, cfs, and no replenishing or rem sleep for the rest of their lives. Your soul is gone, the essence of who you are, your personality wiped without a trace. That’s not life. ”May cause a worsening of suicidal ideation”.

  2. Descent into hell is a perfect description. I always called my struggle to get back – the crawl back from hell.

    It’s strange how these side effects come and go a long time after improvement. I think this indicates a permanent change or damage to the neural network. I’ve heard this referred to as windows and waves. Windows of relief and waves of recurring symptoms. I have experienced this for the last 8 years.

    What’s terribly clear is that those who think they are professionals in the field of SSRI prescription are amateurs at best. These drugs are experimental and dangerous but treated as if they are almost benign.

      • My withdraw was very scary. I thought I was having a nervous brake-down.. my mind was racing and I was having hot flashes and my anxiety was very high.. I went to my doctor and my dose was adjusted. I will never stop taking Prozac and my doctor says that it would be years before she would even consider dropping the dose of Prozac. The doctor said I will be on this mecication for the rest of my life… Yes Prozac does give me breathing space, but if I was told ahead of time that I had to take this medication for the rest of my life I would have not taken Prozac. I would have requested something else.

  3. I can’t see why anyone would benefit from these synthetic toxins. Even those who think they have been helped have only had their real issues masked. Is that helping? I recommend people seek out a functional medical doctor to rule out disease, nutrient deficiencies, hormonal issues, etc. No one was born with a Prozac deficiency. I lost a loved one to Cymbalta. It was an avoidable death. Doctors themselves need to be FULLY educated on the very real side effects, (often they don’t believe their patients reporting side effects and withdrawal problems because it isn’t in the literature) look for other less toxic approaches (But will they? They went to pharma-backed med schools and have been fully indoctrinated), fully disclose to the patient all the possible side effects and a plan on when to get off the med(s), and lastly, how to safely wean off (and many doctors really err here- with Cymbalta for example they often tell patients to skip a day or two -sending said patient into horrible withdrawals).

    • Toni, your statements are spot on. You’ve captured some of the hallmarks of conventional medicine and its use of psychotropic drugs. After watching this nightmare since 1990 and working for many years to change it, I still don’t know how to get through to the majority of practitioners who prescribe these drugs and trust the drug companies’ over the many patients who suffer so horribly from these drugs.

  4. Being TOLD you are depressed! OMG! I went through this over and over. It sure felt physical to me, and I now know it was. Docs have just been trained to call any female physical issue they don’t understand “depression.” I, too, went through years of meds that did not help and made things worse.

    I’ve been off that roller coaster for just over 10 years now and am so thankful, although an antibiotic (Cipro, in the fluoroquinolone class along with Levaquin and Avelox) 7 years ago has made my life hell. These days I refuse ALL meds, including aspirin, Motrin, everything. I’ve learned to let my body heal itself and assist with supplements. I strongly believe all meds have long-term negative effects. We never hear of them because no one is looking. Docs believe that once a med “clears your system” it can no longer damage. But there is no proof of this. They base drug studies with this hypothesis and don’t check or believe otherwise. People with MFTHR dysfunction know differently.

    One big help for me is the book, “The Mood Cure” by Julia Ross. I believe as much as 80% of depression in our culture is driven by fake foods and nutritional deficits. That, at least, should be the first thing to be addressed before docs go to the easy way out by not listening and pulling out a Rx pad.

    • Everyone is right here. Whats going on here is being stuck in pergatory. Opiod crisis??? How about an SSRI crisis Mr. President?? I asked you a question Mr. President. Well when I reformed health care…??…. The govt. doesn’t care about any of this nor do a lot of Dr’s that we PAY to see.
      Dr. Healy is absolutely right when he talks about this prescription only crap. If Prozac, Zoloft etc.
      were sold in drug stores, over the counter we wouldn’t be having these discussions. If someone did try to alleviate their depression/anxiety with this crap in 2 weeks they would be in the backyard vomiting and burning this crap. Perhaps even consider it heresy to take it. The majority of the Dr’s prescribing these pills know nothing, absolutely nothing about Psychopharmacology. Ask them what a re-uptake inhibitor does and they look at you like you have 2 heads. I find it amazing how we patients know more about the pharmacology of these drugs then the actual prescribers!!!! I can’t imagine the hell you guys have gone through when you stopped these drugs. My withdrawl from zoloft was mild. I took it for 15 years. The funny thing is I feel better then ever now that I am off it. The Adderall, Wellbutrin and Mirapex I’m taking elevate my spirits for sure. LOL. I’m sick and tired of hearing about how benzo’s-Xanax, Klonopin are SO addictive. Dr’s state, I can’t prescribe that its addictive. What the heck do they mean by addictive?? What am I in second grade?? Do they mean they are concerned about PHYSICAL dependence??? Can’t be that because they give me prozac which is worse. Are they talking about Psychological dependence??? Perhaps. I’m not too sure if they are talking about any of it. We will give you a hefty dose of Paxil but we can’t give you a small dose of Ativan. Really??? Yes, I am sorry but Ativan @ 0.25mgs BID can be habit forming. But Dr. I had good results with Ativan many moons ago and it never became a habit!!??? Sorry sir but Paxil is the answer not Ativan. Ok Doc I’ll try it 🙁 Anyone familiar with this little situation??? See it all the time. The Dr. just happens to leave out the little tidbit about suicide, weight gain, anxiety, insomnia, somnolence, aching bones and joints, irritability, becoming angry over trivial things or situations, nausea, vomiting, impotence, a DEAD libido. Alcoholism, increased intake of etoh. I can go on and on. Somethings wrong here and we all know it, but yet these pills are being given out like candy canes at christmas. For the most part these pills are making people worse. The side effects are worse then the problem they are supposed to be treating. I myself, having a degree in Psych. and being a nurse like many of you have studied pharmacology for many years.
      I still can’t even for the life of me find out with a sensible answer as to how in the hell does lowered serotonin, metabolites and/or pre-cursors cause depression?? I didn’t get it, I just didnt get it until I heard Dr. Healy lecture on it. There is NO LOWERING of serotonin in depression. My antennae go up…What the hell is he talking about??? This is all we have heard and all we have been reading about. In the finest medical text books researchers state that a “Chemical imbalance” of serotonin..OR nor-epinephrine depending on which drug they are pushing is due to low serotonin. Ecstasy increases serotonin. How come the govt. will not let us take that???? There’s even a stimulant in it which gives it an extra “Kick”. Yes it increases serotonin BUT…Always a but. This SSRI crap talk, elevated or lower serotonin is nothing but psychobabble. Hypocrisy, contradictions, + and -, nothing is what it seems in terms of these drugs. Have they saved lives?? I guess. Have they destroyed lives?? Unequivocally YES. Again I feel bad for you guys who went through withdrawls. GP’s and many shrinks who always want to tell you how these drugs will help you get out of bed are always hiding under their desks when you need them because you need help for this misery. Dr’s who prescribe these drugs without proper knowledge of their effects paint us patients with a broad brush and do great harm to all of us. Who’s actually the scientist here?? The Dr.??? the Shaman?? It seems we the patients are. Don’t you think….??? Keep up the good work guys in terms of these posts. 🙂
      Thanks for reading this.

      • About 20 months ago my GP wanted to give me Zoloft for anxiety – I had it bad from a health scare that put me over the edge. Almost recovered now, but I do remember my GP seeming to consider SSRI’s as a cure all…..
        Anyway I felt uneasy about the med after reading up on it. Eventually I tried it and OMG after about 3 days I thought I was going lose my mind. I immediately stopped. Weeks later I tried Lexapro….same result. So I thought OK, enough of the SSRI’s. Curious thing was my GP wanted me to try Luxov next. Yeah right.
        He was anti benzo – the root of all evil – in a matter of days you will end up on a street corner pimping yourself because you can’t get enough (Xanax) kind of thing. Yeah well I’ve taken Xanax before years before and seemed to have survived it somehow. So decided that this dude didn’t know what the f*ck he was talking about – so eventually saw a nurse practitioner and told her I wanted to give Klonopin a go. She said fine – but told me that they wouldn’t work if I didn’t take them….see I explained to her that I had a tendency to suffer rather than take pills. Fear of dependency. But took them I did. They helped.
        Benzo’s are not the root of all evil – they work almost 100% of the time for anxiety and depression, and w/o those funny little side effects you can get from SSRI’s…..

        • Jeff, I totally agree with u about SSRIs. I rue the day 25 yrs ago when I was prescribed these “miracle drugs” I highly doubt I will ever be free from. But I have an entirely different experience than u with benzodiazepines. I barely came away with my life when I tried to come off of klonopin. If the Devil made SSRIs then his boss made benzos. The experience the woman who’s article about Prozac we are all commenting on could have been talking about my klonopin experience. I ended up in the ICU and have not been the same since. I eventually tried to take my own life. I did miraculously get completely off of all benzos. My anxiety went away. I am however stuck on a lot of other meds I may never be free from. Most of my adult life has been ruined. NONE of these drugs are safe. And doctors refuse to see the obvious and keep prescribing them with impunity.

        • I disagree benzos are the route of all evil go look at the forums on fbook and the other forums online and see the suffering. They have totally destroyed …crippled me beyond belief mentally and physically.

      • Thank you 4 your article. I have insomnia and was prescribed Prozac which I bought but never ingested. Your comments and those of other ssri sufferers have helped save me from a polypharmical merry-go-round through hell. When I find a cure i’ll publish it. In the mean time I am clueless.

        • Mike G ~
          As you, and others, are looking for help to escape “a polypharmical merry-go-round through hell,” do please test the value and benefits of hypnosis. There’s plenty of information and websites on the internet about how to teach yourself self-hypnosis. And, if you feel you would like a guide, there are plenty of adequately knowledgeable hypnotherapists and hypnotists around, too.
          Hypnosis is just language, the most basic of placebos. And yet, as British Author and 1907 Winner of the Nobel Prize Rudyard Kipling said about language, “I am, by calling, a dealer in words; and words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.”

          Many of you were prescribed a variety of drugs that were barely better (if better at all) than placebo during their FDA trials. Test this. At the very least — the very least — hypnosis will not work at all. No relief, no better sleep, no balancing your mood, no improvement of your well-being. And still, you will be ahead, if only for the absence of malevolent side-effects.

          And, unlike a drug in your bloodstream, all hypnosis is self-administered and self-controlled; within your mind you must say “yes” to the supportive, health-oriented words said for them to have any potency. Therefore, at the very best, you will find the words you choose to have said and which you repeat to your deep feeling self (subconscious mind) will begin to open a window to that better life you remembered living or onto one as good or better.
          I offer this suggestion for health and sanity. And to qualify my entry, declining drugs offered by various doctors, I, myself, crawled away from the edge of a very high bridge by embracing words that dared me to invest my belief in a worthiness inside me and a reliable goodness outside in the world.

    • Before doctors start poisoning their patients with chemicals, which cause irreversible damage, they should address dietary deficiencies and start prescribing some supplements.
      Research has shown that a great improvement in mood changes and depression takes place when vitamin B12, B6, and Folic acid are taken. They are also being considered for the prevention of Alzheimer!

  5. sorry for your suffering.its alot like my story.
    only mine has gone on for over 7 years of severe pain and mental stuff.
    after tryin to go off 40mg cold turkey.
    on my dumb docs very stupid advice that it was safe to do that.
    theres alot more stuff that ive been through too.
    including very severe psychosis and thoughts of suicide and homicide.
    my body has ached so bad for over 7 years.
    but im not going to go into it.
    i dont want to try to talk bout my suffering very sorry .and sympathise completely with your utter talkin bout it.
    if anyone wants to know my story.
    search on youtube for the video.more than hell by paulopezz.or this link.

    i have other videos too on there bout it.
    i hope you can get off the poisonous shit and recover fully.
    i am off.i still suffer.but i will never touch another psych drug.
    i wish you luck,health and happiness.

    • Hi Ruth I took Seroxat for panic attacks and still suffering terribly 4 years off can you tell me what symptoms you still suffer with and has it got any better. I hope one day I feel better than the last four years they have been hell this drug should be banned.

  6. Horrible story, I wish so bad we all get vindicated one day.

    FRED>>>> You are absolutely right, these drugs should be used as a last resort. Preferably in a hospital Environment. With full disclosure of that they target ALL human emotions, SSRI cannot discriminate between wanted and unwanted emotions. Long term use renders in a high probability of dependance.
    Violent behaviour can occur in the most humble and kind-hearted individual. Some individuals become suicidal on ssri. And so on.

  7. I’m 4 weeks into complete Luvox withdrawal after tapering down over 4 months to 6.25 mg. It is a combination of emotional ability, suffocating physical and mental exhaustion, and a daily struggle retrieve the “person” I once was before starting these drugs.

    what has helped (though miles from a cure) is a low carbohydrate diet (no sugar, starch, etc.) However, I’m now even MORE of a diet soda fiend than I once was. Caffeine feels like a lifeline, though there could be worse things than that. B12 (1,000 mcg) and B6 (25 mg) help with the peaks and valleys.

    So SSRIs aren’t “addictive”?!! I beg to differ. :-/

    • I sympathize with everyone who has gone through terrible drug episodes (sometimes lasting years!) I cried for my friend (a college student at the time) who was given one pill after the other in varying doses for depression–then prescribed pills on top of pills for the side effects of those various other pills. He was up and down and all over the place–both emotionally and physically. He even missed his brother’s pre-wedding dinner–he was such a mess from an increase of a dose of some drug (adderall?). He was/is suicidal much of the time–he often talks about wanting to die…and that he hates himself and his miserable life. I tried many times to help him…I’d take him for walks (helped a bit), cooked him highly nutritious food (helped more), talk therapy (not so much–in fact talking did not help at all during his low points). If it were me (and once upon a time it was me) I would definitely wean off ANY prescription medications, improve nutritional intake (e.g. NO processed foods, organic food as much as possible, no artificial flavors, colors, etc) + take therapeutic amounts of vitamins and minerals (being careful to see how much is too much) to re-tune my body. Also, finding things I like to do…painting, hiking, playing tennis, listening to classical music–really helps me. As for negative thoughts, I find listening to, and recalling pieces of classical music is far better than ruminating about my past (which is over and done with anyway). I’ve learned it is important to move into the present–and simply try to do better. Prayer also helps. But if I am tired and feeling blue, I have to remember to be good to myself–to take time off without feeling guilty, especially about not being able to keep up with the rest of the world. I recall the words of my wise mother, who would often tell me “don’t beat yourself up”. Being human is hard for many of us. Weeach can only do what we can, rest when we need to, and try not to worry so much (or at all!– there’s no profit in worry). Bless you all and I hope this helps someone. Time to be medication free….(for most of us anyway)

  8. P.S. I just wanted to mention that CORIANDER CURES EVERYTHING (and no side effects that I know of) Just kidding off course, but who knows? I tried putting a few dashes of coriander in my coffee…and wow! It tastes so good that I tell myself it cures everything–all my ills. All power to the placebo! I feel better already. If “a merry heart doeth good medicine” then how much more a delicious spice to improve the mood? (please note I am NOT minimizing the horrible side effects that people are currently dealing with). Years ago my MD said he would have to “experiment” on me, regarding finding the right drug and proper dosage (at least he was honest) but all I really needed was to be able to SLEEP!!! After a roller coaster of side effects from various drugs, I told him, “Look, I just needed to get some quality sleep, let me take care of my depression part myself…” He helped me with the sleep issue, then we were done.

  9. I have almost every side effect described in this post (only notable exception is the leg pain). At the end of January, my psychiatrist used Prozac to begin weening me off of Pristiq (50mg). Over a month, I had discontinued both drugs. It is now March 10th and all of my symptoms are at their peak, with new ones arising regularly. My worst symptoms at this point are as follows:

    Vision Blurriness (Made worse by driving)
    Dizziness/‘Spaced Out’/Fogged Feeling
    Disequilibrium (feel like a zombie, not ‘myself)
    Neck & Upper Back Pain (Particularly the top of my neck; stiffness of entire neck)
    Sensation of Brain “Moving” (Sometimes like a shakiness or bobble head type feeling)
    Muscle Spasms/Twitches (and general ‘shakiness)
    Motion Sickness
    Drunk (in a bad way)
    Trouble Concentrating (hurts my brain to try)
    Memory/Recall Issues
    Constant Headache (feels like a tension headache)
    Temple & Ocular Pressure
    Nausea (constant but generally mild)
    Occasional Ear Pressure
    Hair Loss

    Can anyone else relate to such symptoms or advise on how long they lasted? I will not go back on this poison – but I also cannot go on like this. Any advice and/or support is welcome and appreciated. Good luck to everyone.


    • Jaclyn

      Could last a long time. We are working on a position paper on these issues that might give people a way to view the problem – in the hope that this might lead to answers.


    • Jaclyn – Yes, Dr. Healy is right that some of these things can last a long time.
      Everyone is different, so it is tough to be definitive.
      The important thing is to have hope and to believe in your heart that you will be okay.
      There are some concrete steps that can be taken.
      I got reassurance that my pounding heart was fine by getting a thorough cardiac workup.
      I stayed low key, quiet, in the country, near nature, with friends.
      Ate the best diet I could get my hands on.
      Worked hard not to judge myself harshly. Only saw friends with whom I was super comfortable and avoided the rest.
      Even at that, I think (looking back) that for me it took at least a year – longer than I realized at the time. And my life has been very different “out the other end”, a better life… but at least it is my life – warts and all – not a life in which I wasn’t sure what was me and what was a drug.
      Best of luck to you.

    • Stop taking this poison. Concentrate on a good, healthy diet, exercise, fresh air, and supplements like B12, B6, Folic Acid, and Vitamin C.
      But do a good DETOX to clean your system out first. Just remember that nobody seems to have done a study on the CUMULATIVE effect of these dangerous poisons.

  10. Thanks for your response, David. So your guess would be that these symptoms could last “a long time”? Do you mind elaborating on what type of time frame you are referring, along with if you think I will be with all of them for the duration? Appreciate it. Feel like I’m dying…

    • J

      The hope is to get a target article up there that outlines a slightly different view of what is going on and at the same time offer everyone with a problem a new tool to help you – and all of us – to research possible ways to put things right. Hopefully all this will be in place before the summer and then the race is on to find something that makes a difference


      • David, this sounds like the first glimmer of hope for all of us – I wonder if it will apply only to SSRI withdrawal? I have taken every class of psychiatric medication in the past, but antipsychotic withdrawal was the point when everything went berserk, Since then I have been very struck by the similarity between the withdrawal/aftermath of olanzapine and SSRIs. Antidepressant withdrawal is better documented, but presumably because so many more people take them…?

        One of the very worst aspects for me is the fluctuation of symptoms – mentioned by people who have been off SSRIs for a while – sometimes years. Some good days – hey, it’s all gone – followed by appalling re-emergence of the whole shebang. Which makes me think that there has to be some broad overall damage to brain/CNS function caused by the psychotropics (and other drugs). Hence wondering whether there might just be a new approach which could help all of us, regardless of the precise class of drug.

        Very best wishes to everyone who is struggling on.

  11. Exercise, meditation, yoga, all wonderful and therapeutic and shown to improve emotional, mental and physical health. Part of what I lost during my crash into hell was the desire and energy to exercise. This was devastating in a way because exercise had always been a big part of my daily routine and life. Even knowing how much it could benefit me it felt like it was so far out of reach. When I began to exercise again after reinstatement it actually made me feel worse. Once I stabilized after reinstatement exercise became my goto therapy again.

  12. This is what I experienced after quitting Effexor abruptly as advised by my then-psychiatrist. It seems to be a very clear-cut syndrome. The midnight awakenings, the cold/hot, the akathisia, the misdiagnoses. The doctors who refuse to see akathisia should be diagnosed with ADS, or Akathisia Denial Syndrome. Is there a pill for that?

  13. Tried unsuccessfully to give up the SSRIs (effexor). Did manage to change to Zoloft, now off that and still in horrible WDs. I gave up the effexor due to high chol. Only off it have I realised it has destroyed 10 years of my life. All horrific physical things have gone (including 3a Kidney disease, that I wasn’t even alerted to?). Poor liver hads greatly improved. Just gotta retrain by brain, it is horrific. Ten years of losing money, losing family, becoming nasty, angry person.
    On disability for 8 years, but thank god, I got part of my brain back I now know why I was and am unemployable at present. Oh why was I on effexor? Bad reaction to Zyprexa, a gp gave me cause I was tired, that sent me nuts in 3 days. If only I had known, just stay off everything! but docs dont work that way? Maybe encouraging more meds, hides their poor prescribing. Never told what Zyprexa was.

  14. The longer I am off SSRIs the more I am able to isolate, identify and confirm the damage it has done to me. The worst of it is that I know the damage is permanent.

    When a patient enters a GP’s surgery with a troubled mind he is told he has depression. This is as helpful and uninformed as entering a GP’s surgery with physical symptoms and being told you have “illness”, for which you can have anti-illness drugs such as antibiotics and analgesics, so let’s try giving you some of those and if they give you side effects we can start to add in things like antiemetics and antiinflammatories. How are your symptoms now?

  15. I want commend each and every one of you who have been brave enough to tell their own personal experience with the dangers and suffering brought on by the very medications that are prescribed to help us. I too am suffering….my memory from years of having been on Paxil and Remeron and Klonopin, I feel is severely impaired. To withdrawal from Paxil was beyond hell and lasted a year whilst I lay in bed with constant migraines every day. I am now on Prozac 30 mg. I don’t want to be on any pharmeceutical med for many reasons. I am angry at BigPharma for allowing these drugs to destroy lives, instead of first doing no harm. I lack motivation and apathy prevails. Yet, it feels as if my brain has been permanently rewired after years and years of taking ssri’s etc. I am very much into holistic med. and try to research on my own how to rewire my brain. My story is much too long to write here. But, I did want anyone reading this to please please know you are so not alone. NEVER compare your experience with that of someone who simply does not understand our plight. Try to honor yourself for how incredibly brave you are. I know it’s hard. But, it is these stories of poor souls suffering that bring solace to me and I am beyond grateful as makes me feel in company of kindred souls. Bless you all. May God be with you as you go thru your healing.

  16. My heart – and my hopes – go out to all of you who are suffering.
    The only thing I can say is at least you are still alive, and where there’s life, there’s hope.
    Not much to say about my withdrawal after thirty odd years, from psych drugs I never needed in the first place…
    Lost a few friends and family members but here I am, out the other side…

  17. I went through 3 years of withdrawal hell when I discontinued Paxil. I have been drug free for almost 7 years, but I still am not right. My health continues to be an issue and I’ve been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia due to the chronic pain. I also have other weird neurological symptoms that cannot be explained — I honestly think that by taking an SSRI for almost 10 years, I have damaged my body and brain permanently. I consider myself a victim of the Pharmaceutical Cartel.

  18. What I find disturbing is that whenever you read about a suicide in the papers due to the victim’s depression, it never writes about the medication the victim was taking. These poor people are victims of doctor’s irresponsible actions, and IGNORANCE.
    How can you control, or regulate such a complicated organ as the brain, when so little is known as to the way it functions.
    I suggest that doctors should take these drugs before they start prescribing them to patients, then they might begin to understand the symptoms the patient is going through, ( if they can still think straight after the experiment!.)

    • Vera is right. Some of us who have spoken out are branded as “conspiracy theorists”, “Scientologists”, and on and on. Makes me appreciate even more what Dr. Healy has done and is doing.

      Here’s hoping a reporter in the Mainstream Media (may be better in Germany?) will look closely at this complex issue and put the questions baldly. Then, perhaps, there will ultimately be both more understanding and less suffering of innocents.

  19. I quit an SSRI eleven years ago after having taken it for just over a year. One morning I woke up red and very hot with a completely stiff body and face. I couldn’t move, open my mouth, move my eyes or talk due to muscle stiffness. I had to quit. The first three days off was a relief, my muslces relaxed and then all hell broke loose. Dizziness,´nausea, extreme shortness of breath, coughing up all kinds off stuff, itching all over, vomiting, muscle weakness, dropping everything I tried to hold, ice cold arms and legs and very low blood pressure (90/60), tinnitus, confusion and lots of infections. I had never had anything like this before the SSRI. I tried to go back on roughly half the original dose but the symptoms that had forced me to quit came back. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t. At that point I considered it safer to remove the poison than continue taking it and I was convinced by my doctor that the withdrawal symptoms (“that are really only some dizziness”) would go away in a week or so. Hmmmm….it is now eleven years and none of it has gone away except the nausea and the burning skin. During the first five to six years of this hell that I have been living in, I got infections in my gums causing the loss of six teeth, I lost almost all hearing on my right ear. After that the tinnitus in my right ear stopped and started in my left one and I am now loosing my hearing on that one too. During these years I have been hospitalised twice for hypoxia, pneumonia and inability to stand on my feet. It has been eleven years of inability to work, dizziness, muscle spasms, stiffness and other problems that just refuse to get better. I have made two attempts to reinstate with the same horrendous results on both occasions. I have tried every remedy under the sun. Supplements and diets of all kinds, yoga, meditation and physical excercise (that only makes it worse). I have at this point no hope of ever recovering. A drug that i got for problems falling asleep (!) that I took for one year and that didn’t help anyway has now stolen almost twelve years of my life.

  20. Many years after quitting these destructive SSRIs, apart from the permanent physical and emotional sexual deadness and chronic fatigue, the worst lingering symptom is the inability to remember. My memory doesn’t work anymore. Everyday I have to try and work out how I got here. Thinking back across the years, what I can remember from my time on SSRIs is all unreal and fragmented, there is no continuum, like it’s all from some kind of drug trip and like it wasn’t really me and now I don’t know who I am. It’s a burned out mental deadness. Memories from before SSRIs are all real and that was me, then I went off on the SSRI trip and none of that is real and now here I am years later, not knowing who I am or how I got here. I was in my early 30s, now I am in my early 50s and all is lost. How did I get here? Who am I? What the hell happened? I know what happened, SSRIs happened, but I still don’t know who that is in the mirror, because they are 20 years older than they should be and they look tired out, lost and troubled, with no way back to themselves.

  21. Once upon a time in an enchanted kingdom called Venlafaxineland…
    And there the fairy tale ends.
    I came late to the realisation that cocktails of inordinate amounts of prescribed drugs were possibly the cause of my ever-increasing instability and ever-increasing physical ailments. Not the standard side-effects or adverse reactions often commented on.
    In 2013/2014 I had a season-ticket to the hospital carpark for investigations into suspected Cushing’s (negative), suspected ovarian cancer (negative), suspected Meniere’s (negative) to name but a few.
    I suspected that my body was yelling at me to stop poisoning it with Venlafaxine (SNRI) and Depakote.
    So after 27 years of polypharmacy I took a leap of faith and began reducing Venlafaxine.

    I kept a relatively upbeat personal account of how I felt and what I experienced. Note I still referred to them as medications then, had not been acquainted with ‘critical’ psychiatric thinking:

    Within first two weeks (150mg):
    Rhinitis, hoarse, “thick throat”- hard to swallow, dry cough, blurred vision, very drowsy, vomiting , bloating, constant lower back pain, nausea, sweats, chills, “ERUPTIONS ON FEET”( later diagnosed as POMPHOLYX?/DERMATITISY-KIND-OF-THING-?/VASCULITIS??!), dizzy, palpitations, low-grade temperature (recurrent).
    During second two weeks (75mg):
    Burning sensation on face, knuckles , palms, “vibration” sensation under skin, “fizzing” lips, dry cough, hoarse, dizzy, unsteady, clumsy, loss of balance, very bad backache, very nauseous, throat feeling constricted, puffy fingers, burning swollen toes, consistently cold and feeling exhausted.
    August 2nd (started venlafaxine 75mg every other day)
    August 4th BACK TO 75 MG EVERY DAY because of adverse reaction: – at 2 am was still awake (mainly because of extremely painful elbow tendonitis). Tried to lie down and close my eyes but suddenly hit by violent brain whooshing. Felt like being pulled into a whirlpool. Opened eyes, sat up, waited a few minutes and tried to lie down again. Same happened, only worse. Limbs jerked a couple of times, but now couldn’t open eyes, couldn’t move at all, breathing was shallow and difficult. Tried to shout and eventually could manage a grunting noise (even though no-one else in the house). Kept trying to reach for the phone, couldn’t move, still couldn’t open my eyes. Then finally with great effort opened eyes, but for several seconds could see nothing (even though lamp was on) – just looked like dark blurry lines. Then suddenly vision back to normal, sat straight up, felt exhausted, heart pounding.
    Didn’t try to sleep anymore and restarted Venlafaxine every day.

    TAKE 2 – JANUARY 2014
    I decided from the start to stay as active as possible as a distraction from the withdrawal symptoms. This was my ploy during my reduction from 225 mg to 75mg last summer, and found it worked for me.
    From what I’ve read, and also from my own past experience, it makes no difference whether you go from 75mg to zero or from 37.5mg to zero by gradually cutting that last tablet into tiny bits over several months. The moment you go to zero Venlafaxine your brain goes mad.
    You know that strange sinking feeling you get in your guts when you just gave yourself a fright, or when standing too close to a perilous drop – well that’s there constantly but …. translate that ‘sinking feeling’ to your head/brain. Hard to do if you’ve never experienced it, but that is what the ‘brain whooshing’ and spinning feels like to me. Even if I just move my eyes (as in ‘looking’!), like when reading, driving (am being VERY careful). Bright light is too bright, eyes feel so tired.
    Tuesday 14th January 2014

    Just got Gabapentin (hereafter referred to as Gaba) 3 x100mg per day for sciatica in right leg (pain in bum). Already taking:
    – Venlafaxine 75mg (hereafter referred to as Ven) x 1 in the morning;
    – Tramadol 2 x 100mg (hereafter referred to as Tram) per day for elbow;
    – 2 Paracetamol 3 to 4 x a day prn for elbow (any anything else);
    – Valproic acid 1 x 500mg at night (hereafter referred to as Dep) as ‘mood stabiliser’;
    – 1, 2 or 3 Diazepam 2 mg (hereafter referred to as Val) prn to get to sleep!
    Venlafaxine was not in stock today so…
    As Venlafaxine and Tramadol seem to share a similar ‘something’ (warnings about serotonin syndrome), and because Gaba may make me a bit drowsy, this seems like the right time to stop Ven as it may mask the ‘withdrawal’. Discontinuation syndrome they may call it, but that’s just a nice euphemism.
    I’ve researched as much as possible on UK websites regarding other people’s experience of withdrawing to find any helpful tips. Quite a few people mention using Benadryl (But not clear to me which one) as the antihistamine ingredient apparently counters the withdrawal. This is anecdotal.
    I eventually found a blow by blow account by a Brit (midwife called Rachel) who wrote an excellent and positive and well-informed account of her experience. There was also mention of the fact that the ingredient diphenhydramine (found in Nytol here in the UK) helped counter the withdrawal symptoms.
    Also it seems that even going to 37.5 and then cutting it into tiny pieces over months still makes no difference when you then take none at all. Your brain will still go mad.
    Tuesday 14th January 2014 was my last Ven 75 mg. after a 14 year relationship with the drug.
    Went to bed at 10pm after an easy day and about 36 hours after last Ven.
    Kept busy. Slightly headachy. Nothing of note until I went to bed at 9pm.
    Familiar brain whooshing and spinning started in earnest. Simply could not sleep. Eventually after 4 x 2mg Val fell asleep after 2pm.
    FRIDAY 17TH JANUARY 2014 – DAY 3
    9 am: palpitations
    9pm: been asleep for a couple of hours. Was spinning and racing, hyper all afternoon. Had English conversation class; talked far too much, the work I’d prepared yesterday evening for the students was full of errors, was too complicated and didn’t make sense any more. Felt really spaced out. Enhanced sense of smell – YUK! Slightly headachy.
    Went to bed 10ish, watched some TV, finished a book (had had 2 x 2mg Val). At 1am took one more Val plus 1 Tram.
    This time no major spinning and whooshing like last night. Just slight sweeps of anxiety and restlessness inside. And then fell asleep very quickly over the Kindle.
    10.15 am
    Going to take meds now (next Tramadol due 4pm-ish), feeling reasonably ok. May spread the dose of Tram (i.e. one at 2ish) as I’ll be with E. and don’t want to talk her hind legs off if I start getting a bit hyper again.
    Felt ok until sudden spinning at 4ish. Took Tram, then rest of the evening kept busy and felt ok. Off to bed now.
    In the night 4.20 am got up (for loo), also hot and very sweaty, stuffed up, dry throat.
    Back to bed at 5am.
    SUNDAY 19TH JANUARY 2014 – DAY 5
    11.20 am
    Just up again. Slept a lot after am pills. (backache, but not sciatica at the moment). Kept busy, indoors, was OK again except sudden ‘spinning’ at 5ish. So took evening Tram and Gaba. Bed at midnight. 4mg Val and fell asleep rather quickly. (Didn’t need loo in the night – that makes a change!).
    MONDAY 20TH JANUARY 2014 – DAY 6
    9.30 am
    Been up since 7ish. Was really spinning. Took morning meds. Kept busy but still slightly ‘spinny’. (Got dressed and took 2mg Val – didn’t help).
    11 am
    Still very spaced out and dizzy.
    12.35 am
    Coffee at Tesco’s Costa. Very dizzy, brain ‘whooshing’ every few minutes, sort of hyped –up, driven inside, very unsteady on my feet and clumsy (as though a bit squiffy). But otherwise ok – no more headaches and no other withdrawal symptoms). Oh forgot, regular bursts of profuse sweating (particularly during slight physical or mental exertion).
    9.50 pm
    Been to pharmacy to get diphenhydramine (Nytol, in this case). Taken 25mg, already feeling better.
    The ‘vertigo’ was worse today than any other day since I stopped. In fact the last 2 days the spinning and whooshing was getting increasingly worse. Have an enhanced sense of smell, also phantom smells (I think) for a few days. Let’s see if Nytol really helps with the withdrawal.
    Well, sleeper worked – just woke up on the sofa! Spinning stopped very quickly after taking the Nytol last night. Going to bed now!
    9.15 am
    Up 15 minutes – slight vertigo. Taken morning meds.
    11.20 am
    Back from GP re. sciatica. Increase Gaba to 3 x 200mg till Saturday then increase again to 3 x 300mg. After a few days of that, ring gp and report back. (+ call from hospital, re gynae referral next week).
    Brain behaving quite nicely today, so far. Occasional ‘mini-whooshes’.
    Starting to feel spaced out (already taken increased Gaba).
    Back from town (and X Street physio). Was so tired, dizzy, spaced out, hot and sweating (even though only about 3 C).
    Time for meds. Brain whooshing now, palpitations.
    7ish pm
    Just woke up. Palpitations calmed down, whooshing stopped. Taken half a Nytol 25mg. Already ready for bed as must be up and out early tomorrow morning.

    7 am
    Not spinning!!! (Not getting up for the loo in the night last few days + back ok on getting up but elbow = ouch).
    Question: is extreme tiredness, dizziness and spaced out feeling possibly a side-effect of the Gaba?
    Slept last night with no more Nytol and no Val.
    12.50 pm
    at E’s. Just taken lunchtime Gaba. Not been dizzy and no brain whooshing at all this am (but just been sitting quietly).
    Back home. Apart from slight headache, NO VERTIGO, DIZZINESS, WHOOSHING AT ALL TODAY. (Sitting on sofa nearly all day done my back no favours – but you can’t win them all).

    Update 2015 Out of the frying pan into the fire
    Have not taken venlafaxine since, despite rebound ‘depression’
    Stopped Gabapentin as feet swelled up.
    Stopped Tramadol as it didn’t help with pain relief.
    Pain and ‘remaining unidentifiable symptoms/conditions’ resolved after stopping Depakote.
    Stopping Depakote and being drug-free for the first time in 27 years resulted in an intolerable neurostorm – only option offered more of the same, stuck on Quetiapine, barely functioning – no longer quite so upbeat.

  22. I decided to quit Prozac, that I had been prescribed 12 years ago for depression, in October 2014. At the time I was prescribed Prozac, I was experiencing leg pain, fatigue and general malaise. I mentioned this to my doctor and because of a family history of depression she prescribed Prozac. Fast forward to February of last year, I inadvertently was reading about vitamin D deficiency and all my symptoms were listed. So at my next appointment I asked my doctor to check my vitamin D level just to see. My levels were so low he immediately put me on 50000 iu every two weeks. I noticed a difference in two weeks but my symptoms completely resolved in a couple of months. Then I was mad. I hated taking Prozac but was to scared to quit because I had been convinced that I needed it to function properly. Anyway, without telling anyone, I quit. For about two months I was a mess but I slowly returned to myself.

    I think we need to be proactive when dealing with our health and our doctor. Do our own research? Ask questions? All I asked was ” Can we check my vitamin D level?”

  23. I’m going through this now for like the 10th time in my life…you’d think I’d be used to it and that it would get easier,but it doesn’t. It’s just something you have to go through in order to be free of these drugs though. And yes,it can take weeks and sometimes months to feel normal again. I just withdrew from Klonipin in April and now I’m doing Prozac. Most of the year has been spent feeling badly!

  24. A few years ago my PCP started me on Effexor, with no warning that the punishment for attempting to flee my new master would be swift and vicious. I found out by accident in July 2014, when a chore aide failed to refill the script, then went on vacation. The unexpected cold turkey withdrawal caused such rapid, violent mood swings that a close friend said, “If I didn’t know you, I’d think you were bipolar.”

    Since I’m usually very even-tempered, I was horrified as well as miserable. I tried to stick it out, since someone wrote in a blog that the withdrawal only lasted 30 days (HA!), and I was already up to day 17. I gave up, and decided to ease off the stuff instead.

    I reduced the amount slowly over the next several months, and I was pleased that it was going so well. At the beginning of April, I thought I was ready to quit. I got a rude awakening about 2 weeks later.

    I didn’t experience the symptoms a lot of people have described- in fact I think I’ve gotten off easy. The main things was the mood swings. Every few minutes, all day, every day I’d go in the snap of my fingers from being angry with everyone and everything- with no cause for the anger- to being in tears because everyone and everything was so horrible, again with no actual trigger for the feeling. Then, snap- I was furious and raging. Snap- crying and abused by all. Snap … and so on. I think, although I can’t prove, that the problem was intensified by having the flight or flight reaction going all day long, pouring adrenaline into my system to try to deal with whatever the threat was.

    The only things that helped calm me down were melatonin (not to sleep, just to relax) and Valium, which I have as a muscle relaxant because of my MS. Some days I could get by without taking anything. Other days, I needed huge doses.

    I found that if I put on a low-key movie (along the lines of “The Land Before Time”) and worked on my crocheting while I watched it, it would help because it distracted me from thinking about people or things that might serve as a focus for my anger or hurt. I told friends not to bring their children around me. I didn’t believe I’d physically harm them, but I was worried about the vicious things that might come out of my mouth. You can’t undo telling a pre-schooler that you hate them because they’re the most awful person you’ve ever met. I avoided abusing my dog by yelling at him non-stop by ignoring his existence whenever possible.

    After two weeks of this, I felt like I was myself again. I’d read, though, that Effexor withdrawal could come back to haunt you for a couple of months, so I wasn’t especially surprised when I started having “Effexor days”, when I was either sluggish and not thinking clearly and/or more easily upset or angered than normal. Through the summer those days would come a couple of times a week, and I’d be just shifting moods every several hours, rather than every few minutes, so I kept reminding myself it was better. And it had to stop soon, right?

    Right now, I get spells of 2-3 days when I’ll be unusually irritable. The usual switching back and forth between feeling abused because others aren’t viewing my smallest problem as something that should be the center of their world and being furious with them because of their selfish outlook only occurs once or twice a day, and may go away for hours at a time.

    Sometimes I would like to just go off into the woods and camp, and never have to see another person again. I’d probably just feel abused if no one came to check on me and angry if they did, so it wouldn’t really help. I can feel that way at home.

    The movie/crocheting system still helps calm me, but you can’t do that all day. I’ve been trying essential oils, and rubbing a drop or two of cedarwood right under my nose seems to help a bit.

    One other problem I’ve had, which might have other causes than the Effexor withdrawal, is chronic diarrhea, which started as my dosage was winding down. I also had a bad bout of bronchitis *after* the diarrhea started. It was treated with heavy antibiotics, which may have messed up intestinal flora and worsened the problem. I’ve been eating Activia (which is a major luxury when you’re on disability) and, during the last few weeks, using small amount of essential oil of orange internally. Whether it’s one of those things or if it’s Effexor wearing out (or pausing to get me off-guard) I don’t know, but I’m not having to take meds 2-6 times a day just to keep things normal, like I was for for several months.

    Today, nearly six months after the last dose I’m still angry that I wasn’t warned in advance that I was being given an addictive med. I decided as a teenager never to use illegal drugs, because I didn’t want some stupid chemical controlling me, let alone the person who supplied it. It just never occurred to me that my PCP would give me something as bad as a street drug.

    I’m slowly improving, though. While today I’ve been unreasonably angry twice at my niece for thinking that an upcoming Housing inspection and a sick child were of greater importance than my library books she was supposed to return, on the up side, when said sick child informed me he’d accidentally signed me up for Amazon Prime, which I can’t possibly afford, I just quietly told him not to use anything from Amazon- even if it was “free”- until I had it canceled and only muttered a little about Amazon’s greedy policies while I was typing the “Cancel it NOW!” e-mail.

    Also positive is that I don’t, at the moment, wish I would just die and have it all over. And I do know that, compared to most who’ve posted here, I have gotten off very easily. Right now, I’m grateful for that, and wish I could help those who are suffering more. It won’t last- Effexor days will be back and I’ll be either crying or snarling, and I’ll be wondering why I *can’t* be dead and be rid of my physical problems. Worst of all, I won’t care if others are suffering more. I’ll be too self-absorbed. Surely it must end eventually?

    • I just realized I worded something wrong. “I avoided abusing my dog by yelling at him non-stop by ignoring his existence whenever possible.” That sounds like I yelled at the poor dog non-stop to avoid battering him. What I meant was that, to avoid abusing him *by* yelling at him non-stop courtesy of Effexor, I just ignored him as much as I could until I was able to not yell and scream at him.

  25. I was recently hospitalized for serotonin syndrome after only 5 days of 20 mg generic Prozac for post partum depression. This was the scariest experience of my life and I truly thought it was the end.

  26. I had anorexia as a teenager and was prescribed effexor 37.5mg. I took it for 5 years as was unable to get off it despite being told it was a psychological addiction i had. I was advised to stop in cold turkey and the withdrawal was horrible, i was put on prozac to help with the withdrawal and was told this would be much easier to come off. I took it for 11 years as they lied and it wasn’t easier to come off at all it just took longer for the withdrawal to kick in. No words could do justice to the horror i experienced after coming off prozac. 16 months later and i have gone from a marathon running picture of health to a house bound wreck that cannot remember the name of friends. i just don’t know what to do, i’m a tough person but this has me on my knees

  27. I would like some advice on withdrawal please. I was on 20 mg prozac for about 5 years and 3 years ago I came off, after a 3 month taper. I started to get a serious ringing in my ears and severe insomnia and then I had a year of anxiety, terrible insomnia and intense anger which got worse and worse. The doctor said that I was obviously depressed and advised me to go back on the prozac, which after a year I did, starting with 40mg as the symptoms were so bad. A year later, one year ago, I lowered the dose and started suffering drowsyness and fatigue which lasted 5 months. Then in September I started suffering from the drowsiness and fatigue again and the doctor eventually told me that I needed to come off the prozac as it wasn’t working for me any more. That was about 3 weeks ago. I had a week tapering and then started sertraline. Since then the drowsiness has got worse, accompanied by really bad tinnitus. My query is about the year I had with anxiety, anger and insomnia. Could that have been withdrawal from the prozac? It didn’t get any better over the year – if anything it gradually got worse and worse. At the time I suspected that it was withdrawal as every so often my face would go numb, which was one of my symptoms when I first came off prozac but the doctor said that the symptoms had gone on far too long and I was just depressed/anxious again. (I had suffered form anxiety for a couple of years previously, which had led to CFS, which was why I had gone on the prozac to begin with.) Could that year have been withdrawal? In which case what do I do now? I can’t go back on prozac as it had started to have a bad effect on me. I’m a bit despairing at the moment – I have recently had to put my PhD on hold because the drowsiness got so bad and I’m dreading the withdrawal if it’s going be as bad as last time.

    • OMG I thought I was going Crazy!! I have been on Prozac for years ever since my hysterectomy when I was 32 I’m 55 now and have been on every dose there is. I tried to get off of it a few years ago but I couldn’t do it my brother and sister were going through cancer and I have as going crazy then they passed away and I really needed it. I’m on welbutrin the dr said ween myself off of Prozac for 20 day go every other day. I did that and I’m totally off the Prozac and I’m on the welbutrin. I have every single system still after a week of being on the welbutrin I just want to feel better and have my life back. I live to be outside I have not done anything yet outside don’t care about anything or anyone. This is NOT ME!! I will not go back to Prozac but how long is this crap going to last ? I called the Dr and she said well you can either wait it out or we can put you on something else? What? I said I will just see how this goes. She wants to see me after I’m Done taking the first bottle of welbutrin. Lord Help Me


    • Grace I am trying to help my wife. She is in extreme withdraw pain and we have started back today on 40MG. What techniques or what systems are you using to help your friend?

  29. It will for sure last a month, they say up too 3 months, consider yourself one of the lucky ones if you have less then that.

  30. I’m glad I came across this article and subsequent comments. However, reading it has frightened me even more, especially when I know what I’m taking is potentially causing irreparable damage to my body and mind. I’ve been on 20mg of Prozac for about 23 years to treat, what in my day, was termed as manic depressive disorder.

    I’ve tried several times to withdraw (once successfully in the early days and I was off them for about 4 years with no perceived withdrawals), however in more recent years, with disastrous consequences (severe mood swings, anger, self-harm, cramps, apathy, headaches etc).

    I’m absolutely terrified to go through the withdrawals again, but know I’m going to have to do it at some point to get this poison out of my system. I pray that I’ll be able to find something to help me through this process.

    It’s soul destroying to be cognisant of the fact that something that used to help you, is actually now extremely detrimental to your future wellbeing, especially when it does not appear to be working anymore. It seems I’ve hit “Prozac poop-out” suffering from apathy, hopelessness, thoughts of “what’s the point?”, etc. I’m now going to consult my GP about Wellbutrin, but God help me with the transition. Will I be jumping from the frying pan into the fire?

    If anyone knows anything further about Dr David Healy’s post where he states:

    “The hope is to get a target article up there that outlines a slightly different view of what is going on and at the same time offer everyone with a problem a new tool to help you – and all of us – to research possible ways to put things right. Hopefully all this will be in place before the summer and then the race is on to find something that makes a difference”

    PLEASE share.

    All the love in the world to those who are suffering, whilst trying to help themselves move on to a better, drug free, life. There has to be a way.

  31. Since halting prozac after 12 years amongst other issues have had a almost constant feeling of being on the edge of orgasm. I hate it, it’s frustrating and distressing.

  32. You feel bad and start to take a med for feeling bad. At first you really start to feel better and think, ok, this med is the right thing for me. Then, after a year maybe, you notice that you feel bad again. That whatever it is, it’s back, and with a full force. Then, maybe, you try a bigger dose, which does seem to work for a month or so. Then, again, the bad feeling comes back, and you start to wonder why you’re using this med. Maybe, in that confusing situation, you decide to quit the med to see how you feel without it. THEN, suddenly, you feel worse than when you started the med in the first Place. And you start to wonder are you feeling so bad because you actually NEED the med, or because you’re somehow addicted to it. This confusion can go on for months. It wasn’t good with the med, but it’s certainly worse without it. Maybe THEN you decide to try some other med, different but similar, with the exactly same end result. And then what? You STILL feel bad.

    I have experienced this process many times already, and I’m still confused. Not good with the meds, not good without them, what to do, I don’t know.

    Am I a typical antidepressant user?

  33. I have been on prozac for just over 12 months. I started with 10 MG and increased over time to 40. I am being treated for bulemia, which I had suffered from for over 15 years before seeking professional help. While I have never been diagnosed with depression and anxiety, it goes hand and hand as triggers for the bulemic episodes. I have been free of my hell of bulemia since July 3. And I won’t go back. I truly think the prozac saved my life. I am now coming off the prozac. It was a tool. I never intended to use it as a crutch. I am slowly taking myself down and incorporating whole foods and exercise into my life. I have suffered minimal side effects from the prozac. What I have noticed is leg cramps and decreased sex drive which is a small price to pay for giving up a life of obsessing over food and where I’m going to puke it up at. As I’m coming off the prozac, I’ve noticed a feeling of depersonalization, but honestly nothing else. I guess what I’m saying is that there is use for prozac and responsible ways to take it and to come off of it. I can not stress enough the change in my life from one year ago to today.

  34. And, after watching all David Healy Youtube videos and thinking about them, the Basic question about depression still remains. That question, of course, is: What to do? What SHOULD I do? What David Healy (and many others) tells us about the dangers of antidepressants is all true, what patients who are happy with their medications tell us is ALSO true, it CAN go this way, it CAN go that way, these kind of meds save lives and destroy lives and it’s ALL true. I mean, all this is extremely confusing. There´s a lot of anti-med people who say that you shouldn’t even try antidepressants because they can’t CURE anything anyway, that a healthy life is the answer: Eat right, sleep right, exercise every day, be active, no smoking, no alcohol, etc. And all this is, again, true, BUT the thing is, when you already ARE depressed, it’s too late, you CAN’T do these things. You can’t “live right” BECAUSE YOU ARE DEPRESSED. That’s the problem. You would be happy if you would be happy, but you’re not, and no matter how hard you try you just can´t go out and be happy. And, what´s left in a situation like that, really? Meds. Antidepressants. My experiences with the antidepressants have NOT been good, there haven’t been any lasting help, there have been withdrawal symptoms, the usual side effects, tiredness etc, but once again I´m in a situation where I’m depressed and I MUST do SOMETHING about it. Exercise, yes, completely alcohol free life, yes, I have, of course, tried everything, but the problem, depression, still remains. This is the reason why people want to try different antidepressants again and again – because, really, when you ARE depressed, there ISN’T ANYTHING ELSE. People aren’t depressed because they just forgot to be happy, the problem is very real and it isn’t about will power, people can’t just decide that they’re not depressed anymore, if they could, we would all be happy all the time. So, yes, this message is all about my confusion about depression and antidepressants, but unfortunately that’s all I can say about these things right now. I don’t know. I SHOULD know, but I don’t. Doctors SHOULD know, but they don’t know either. I mean, if the problem is diabetes, then the solution is insulin, right? But if the problem is depression, the solution is…?

    • So if you find that Gin is not helpful – do you turn to whiskey or to wine or to beer? There isn’t a huge difference between SSRIs, benzos and alcohol – all tranquilize to some extent.

      The next issue is whether your condition is an existential problem or medical illness. Alcohol may help both but its worth knowing what you are doing.

      Another is even if the condition is a medical illness, such as Type 2 Diabetes or hypertension, the best answer may not be a drug.

      If the condition has been induced by prior treatment, then you are possibly faced with a condition for which no one at present knows the answer.


    I decided to switch from citalopram to escitalopram,the doctor thought since they were similar then it should be fine. It wasn’t long before I started suffering. Diarrhea, sweats,insomnia,intense fear of the dark.being alone and death,shaking,
    anxiety, stomach ache, all at the same time every day for 23 days. Each day near the end feeling better by one hour. The first hour I felt relief was at 11pm till I slept then it would start all over again the next morning weather I slept or not. I have been traumatized by this still months later. Although I have regained a lot of my functionality I still have morning anxiety and a lack of overall motivation. I am currently very slowly coming off the Escitalopram and I am fine. I take 10% less every 10 days,exercise and get lots of rest and sunlight. I have found taking vitamin D3 1000UI per 25 pounds of body weight helpful. I hope to get off of these drugs that have masked my emotions for 30 years. My only worry is that some else might make the mistake I made and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

  36. I have been on SSRI and NSRI antidepressants for 19 years after being prescribed them by my GP for exhaustion and ‘inability to cope’ when my daughter was a baby. I believe I was wrongly prescribed and diagnosed and I that these meds have actually caused major depression and anxiety. I have tried many times unsuccessfully to come of them for exactly the same reasons mentioned in this article. Severe withdrawal symptoms, the worst of these being intolerable anxiety and abnormally random sadness alongside body aches and pains. I never suffered the terrible sadness and anxiety before taking antidepressants that I have subsequent;y endured each time I have tried to stop the medication. I feel they have taken control of my life and destroyed my life. I’m not the same person I used to be. I feel that since I have been on the medication, I have become detached, aggressive, numb, vague and apathetic to life.
    I’m so glad to have read that I am not alone in this psychiatric medication hell and that people are beginning to speak out about it and that at least some medical professionals are becoming aware of the horrible and frightening reality. I want to stop these drugs forever but I am so so scared of the withdrawal torture-hell and being in a completely vulnerable and dependant state whilst trying to recover.

  37. I cant tell you how long I have been on prozac because I can no longer remember things…15 to 20 years. I have read all of your stories. What I find different is in my case is most of these symptoms have happened to me while I have been ON the prozac!!! I have chronic pain in my muscles and joints that move from one place to another. Migraine headaches that put me to beds for days on end with sensativity to light and noise. Numbness of skin on my face, arms, and legs. Also a feeling of hair on my face or arms that i am constantly trying to brush away…only to have it dawn on me nothing is there. I feel sick and tired all the time…barley able to function most days. Every day feels like a mountian that I just cant climb.I have generalized weakness to the point that it is difficult to dress…so i dont. Bathing takes so much energy that I wash important areas and let the rest go.I have so much weakness and pain in my hips and legs that i wear 2 back braces every day. Hips and legs feel like lead. I have massive night sweats but my skin feels like a block of ice to the touch. This is some of my physical limitations. My mental and emotional illnesses is like a roller coaster…all over the place. The only blessing is I stay in such a fog it all feels like a dream…or nightmare. I have kept this very well hidden as I dont leave my home often. If I have to go out I try to clean up and dress up pretty nice and paste a fake smile on to mask my pain…and anger ..dont want people to know the thoughts going through my mind. I laugh, talk, cut up and cut the meeting very short, all in the back of my mind knowing I have to hurry to get back home, get out of the clothes and shoes that I feel I can hardly breath or walk in.Then comes the crash!!! It has taken every thing I have. Back to bed and the numbness of knowing that I am not living a normal life …hell im not living at all…and so I exist in this nightmare…k

  38. I was 17 when my parents thought I m suffering from depression they took me to a phycatrist.he gave me antidepressant with name clonazepam.after taking the pills my depression got from normal to worst.he increased dosage by adding other antidepressants which resulted in break down of my nervous system I had fits even sizzers as well at present I’m 27my current condition is like a fish without life has been completely destroyed by these so called antidepressants.i pray to God everyday that please gift me death as early u can as I can’t suffer more pain..sorry for my bad English…may my soul rip someday

  39. This is a great article. My question for the group is did anyone lose weight with Prozac only to start gaining? If so, what did you do? When you stopped Prozac all together, did the weight go away? If so, how long (# of weeks or months) did that take?

  40. I was just prescribed Pristiq (Desvenlafaxine) 50 mg a couple of days ago after having trouble rebounding from a bad breakup and financial trouble. My doctor did not mention any of these side effects except dizziness and headaches and told me I only have to be on it for a couple of months. When I asked him about withdrawal symptoms, he simply brushed it off and didn’t really give me answer. He made it seem like nothing would ever go wrong and this medication that most people don’t have problems with it.. I think he is VERY wrong. After extensive internet research and reading this article there is no way I’m going to start taking pristiq! I don’t want to be stuck on an antidepressant rollercoaster for the rest of my life.. i’m only 22 right now. I may be battling a bout of depression but I don’t think it’s severe enough for treatment via SNRIs. I’m going to leave medication as a last resort since I don’t want to create a worse situation than what i’m in right now. I’m going to spend the next few months doing the absolute best I can to better myself, including exercise, relaxation, going to counselling, eating healthy, and taking plenty of vitamins and supplements.
    I’m so sorry for all of you who are suffering, but thank you so much for enlightening me! I hope you all see the light at the end of the tunnel soon

    • Stay away from pristiq. I am trying for the second time to withdraw from it. There is no way to taper thus drug as a 50mg is the smallest dose. Just stay away.

  41. Thank you so much. It is great to know I am not alone. I have been on Prozac for 7 years and decided to come off middle of last year. Everything was OK until about a month or so ago when I started waking up in the night in a panic which would last for hours. I decided to go back on the Prozac at 40mg again as that was the dose I had been taking (against the advice of my doctor who recommended starting at 20mg). Bad move! I have been unable to sleep for several days with the anxiety 100 times worse than before. I recognise many things in the story above and can describe the last few days as absolute hell. I haven’t taken a tablet now since Saturday but am still suffering at night and during the day. Saturday night I stayed up all night watching TV as I was so hyper I couldn’t even consider sleeping. I phoned the out of hours doctor demanding he come and visit me at home and give me something to stop the hellish feelings and eventually phoned the Samaritans! The doctor has given me Diazapam (2mg) for when I need it and it helps a bit but only lasts a couple of hours. Then at night I dread going to bed as the whole thing starts again. My doctor has been less than useless apart from the tranqualisers as I think they see SSRIs as a pretty harmless drug. He is more concerned about me getting addicted to Diazapam than the mind altering effects of Prozac et al. When will this end!!!

  42. I wish all of us harmed or family members of those harmed could all come together and break down the wall that is currently up. Its like a sick joke what going on and its only getting worse. Pharma has drugs for all ages and for all of the made up diagnosis they came up with. I like most people have been 100x more harmed by SSRI withdrawal than the original anxiety/condition I was put on it for. The original anxiety is an aboslute joke compared to SSRI withdrawal. People are being harmed at an alarming rate. I hope you succeed Dr Healy

  43. It became difficult to focus or sit still. I was unable to concentrate and began to feel agitated. (akathisia, Lubitz)

    Melatonin made me more dopey the next day. My vision became blurry. It was as if I had a film over my eyes that no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t rub off. (Lubitz)

    I had never had insomnia until this. While I could fall asleep, I would be awoken at 2am by dread, panic and those horrible ruminations. (Lubitz)

    Stranger still was this feeling of numbness and weakness in my right leg, only it wasn’t numb and I don’t think it was weak, it just felt like it was. I began to think I had had a stroke. I was terrified. To be honest, my description here doesn’t do what I was feeling justice. It was simply horrific and scary. (Possible case of encephalitis) Any psychosis?

    Fatigue set in. It too worsened and became exhaustion (Malfunctioning CNS and Fight-Or-Flight)

    Anhedonia became severe for several weeks. I almost can’t explain it. (Malfunctioning SNS)

    Conclusion: Was the Serotonin Syndrome, it’s basically a mild form of encephalitis.

  44. I had every singe one of these experiences while on and coming off Seroxat. At times they were worse, usually during withdrawal. I’ve been doing a lot of research, and from what I can see, what most people seem to be reporting when on or coming off SSRIs looks like cases of encephalitis. The SNS is responsible for feelings of apathy and anhedonia. The SNS can’t work if the immune system is damaged. Andreas Lubitz reported vision problems and insomnia. His actions seemed to stem from akathisia and/or psychosis. I checked the internet to see if Mirtazapine (the drug he was on) can cause encephalitis, and it says there have been cases. It would explain why he did what he did. The debilitating CFS I’m left with after being on Seroxat for 15 years is more than likely due to long-term effects of untreated encephalitis which came about as a bad reaction to Seroxat. Most Seroxat withdrawal cases report high fever or flu-like symptoms. I had a severe case of akathisia brought on by Seroxat withdrawal in 2007, but feel it came with encephalitis. I read antidepressants weaken the immune system. What if withdrawal actually causes the immune system to attack the brain? I believe I got encephalitis and it went untreated because I didn’t know serotonin syndrome was actually encephalitis. As a result my SNS crashed and it’s the reason I have chronic fatigue and sexual dysfunction ever since. You could at least look into it. I have no emotions whatsoever. I know it’s down to having been on Seroxat.

  45. I have taken pristiq 50 mg for three years. This is my second attempt to stop. My first ended when the taper my doctor recommended left me crying, sleepless, and feeling “depressed”. I thought my depression was still present. A year later after losing insurance, I decided it was time again. I bought a pill cutter and began a taper. My son successfully weaned himself off Paxil by doing the following…he took a pill only when the brain zaps started. Little by little they got further apart and he cannot recall the last time he took a pill. Currently I am 7 days since taking 1/4 of a 50 mg tablet that I cut myself. I chose to follow my sons lead as he has been successful. I was in the depths of dispair and brain zaps when he suggested I try his method. I have increased my distance between each dosage each time. I hope to be free of symptoms and pills by summers end.

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